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KRIYA LENDZION

MA, NCSC, NCC,  LPC, LCAS

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Demi Lovato’s recent hospitalization from a drug overdose presents us with a ripe opportunity for a relevant conversation with our teens about youth substance use, addiction and mental health. Every celebrity OD or public act of inebriated horribleness hands us this opportunity, but this one has especially powerful potential. As a recent Guardian article stated, it’s a "gift to many people who have experienced similar illnesses," as well as for us educating about them.

Tweens to college-aged students are familiar with Demi. While younger teens are just plugging into her catchy current pop songs and constant media presence, many have grown up with her for the past 15 years, from Barney to Disney to young adulthood, and followed her complex and transparent journey. She’s young, beautiful, ridiculously talented, her career’s at a high point, and she seems to have all that many teens dream of and look up to. She manages to stay hip while openly criticizing the fakeness, shallowness and unhe...

September 19, 2017

By the end of high school 61% of teens have drunk more than a few sips of alcohol, and 45% of them have at least tried marijuana, never mind the mile-long list of other substances from computer duster to over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines kids are experimenting with to get high these days. You can be doing everything the experts advise and still bust your teenager and a friend stealthily vaping pot when you thought they were studying math. Yes, we want to delay use as long as possible to maximize brain development and minimize addiction...but this doesn't have to mean your child is now destined to be living under a bridge drinking Mad Dog out of a paper bag. The difference in whether their experimentation turns into repeated or addictive use hinges largely in our response to it.

Here are 10 tips that can help you use these challenging moments as opportunities to strengthen your teen's protective armor against all the forces of self-destructive temptation out there.

1. Timing is...

Summertime…the living is easy…and so is access to drugs and alcohol for your teenagers.

Data tells us more teens start drinking, smoking and using other drugs in June and July than any other months of the year (with December close behind). The reasons are no-brainers – more free time and less supervision. For some it’ll be a harmless taste of something that they can easily take or leave, pick up rarely and manage responsibly without consequences. For others, it’ll be the start of a rough journey that leads to some tough outcomes and destructiveness, including addiction. For some of these kids, it’ll be what ends their lives. 

Whether our kids end up in the first or second category typically depends on a combination of risk factors and how well we're able to counteract them with stronger protective factors. We know that adolescents are much more at risk who have addiction and problematic use in their family – both from inherited genetic factors and modeling. So are teens wi...

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